Publication Date

April 2016


Mark Slobin




English (United States)


Portamento is “the carrying of a sound with the voice or stringed instrument, the transition from one note to another, higher or lower, without break in the sound.” This research explores the concepts of “Jewishness” and “individuality” as they relate to violin soloists of the early and later parts of the twentieth century, focusing in particular on their use of portamento in the performance of Jewish art music. The paper defines a new formal, atomic language for portamento classification and analysis, and it proceeds to use this system to analyze the contextual portamento use in Jacob Gegna’s “Choz – Jewish Melody” and in twelve recordings of Ernest Bloch’s “Nigun”, demonstrating the patterns this system reveals as well as suggesting further applications to integrate this system with microanalysis of other key musical parameters.



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